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HTC Desire 816 Review

HTC Desire 816

Posted: , by Nick T.




Not ideal, but surely among the best in the Desire 816's price range.

The HTC Desire 816 comes with a 13MP main camera, which is pretty generous considering the device's mid-range class. A single LED light is right next to it to help in those tricky low-light scenes. We are also surprised to find a 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens on this one. Rest assured that your selfies are going to turn out splendid.

Launching the Camera application brings forth a familiar interface. It is very clean, with no buttons and knobs in the viewfinder's way, and the image adjustments are only a few taps away. It is convenient that we're allowed to switch between the front and the rear cameras with a simple swipe.

Unlike the HTC One (M8), the HTC Desire 816 will not give you access to manual controls for the focus and white balance. It will, on the other hand, let you tweak the ISO and exposure value, while the white balance can be modified by applying one of several presets. Plus, you get a variety of filters, HDR and panorama modes, and an Anti-shake digital image stabilization for still images.

As for the actual image quality, it turns out that the HTC Desire 816 is a capable shooter, and probably one of the best performers in its price range. It preserves details naturally in its photos, adding just a hint of sharpness and contrast for a better look. Digital noise can be seen when viewing images at 100% zoom, but the large number of pixels makes up for that, which is why scaled down images look lovely. The warm tone of the morning sun has been preserved well in our photo samples. Bright objects in the frame, however, are likely to “burn” out should the dynamics range of the scene turn out to be greater than what the camera can capture.

Indoor photos from the HTC Desire 816 turn out detailed enough. There's a higher presence of artifacts and digital noise, but it is all within a tolerable range. The color tone in neutral to warm, depending on how much ambient light there is around. And if lights are too dim, the LED light provides enough illumination without distorting the image's color accuracy.

Image size:
Use our samples comparison tool to see photos from more phones

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 3.6
No data
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 2.7
No data
Sony Xperia Z2 3
No data
LG G2 4
View all

The HTC Desire 816 shoots 1080p video at 30 fps, 720p videos at 60 fps, and slow-motion videos at 120 fps with a resolution of 768 by 432 pixels. Full HD footage looks good, albeit a bit too contrasty. Details are sufficient, and the camera's auto-focus works fast enough. Note that by default, the camera locks its focus in videos, requiring the user to use taps to change the focus distance, but continuous auto-focus can be enabled from the settings menu. Low-light videos are usable, but noisy and with a fair amount of motion blur.


The large screen and front-facing speakers make the HTC Desire 816 very suitable for multimedia consumption.

The Music player bundled with Sense 6.0 has a clean interface that is easy to get the hold of. Audio can be grouped by album, artist, or song name, and whatever album art happens to be missing from your library can be downloaded automatically from the internet. It is also nice to see that HTC has added an audio visualizer and support for lyrics, which scroll as the music is played. There is no equalizer, however, so you don't have any freedom to fine tune the audio reproduction to your liking. Alternatively, one is free to use Google's Play Music application instead of HTC's solution.

HTC has not included a dedicated video player application with its custom UI. That's why your options are to either watch videos from the Gallery application, or download a third-party app from the Play store. Should you choose to stick with the former, you won't be able to enjoy DivX videos as those aren't supported by the Gallery app. Other popular formats, however, run perfectly fine at resolutions of up to 1080p. The video playback interface is very clean and easy to navigate. It comes with a built-in editor that can trim videos to a desired length.

As we already mentioned, the HTC Desire 816 sports a pair of front-facing stereo speakers dubbed BoomSound. These appear to be identical to the ones outfitted on the One (M8) as the sound they produce is equally good. Audio output is clear, loud, without any clipping sounds, and there's even a fair presence of lower-end frequencies. It goes without saying that the speakers turn watching movies and playing games on the Desire 816 into a very pleasurable experience.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 0.88
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 0.43
Sony Xperia Z2 0.29
LG G2 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 74
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 76
Sony Xperia Z2 71
LG G2 66
View all

  • Options

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:10 4

1. ihavenoname (Posts: 1693; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)

Great phone, hopely it sells well.

posted on 29 May 2014, 10:10

14. GTR722 (Posts: 270; Member since: 20 Oct 2012)

They need to put this phone in Amazon, unlocked, global. Moto G did that, and it sell like crazy...why more companies dont do that is beyond me.

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:36 1

2. Anshulonweb (Posts: 437; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)

I hope the size was little smaller.... it us same size as LG g pro 2 which has 5.9 inch screen.......and I think snapdragon 400 is quite average processor for price range. n..200$ moto g has it......I wish not only htc but sony,LG and Samsung start putting snapdragon 600 in the price range......

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 22:07

24. Canaan (Posts: 348; Member since: 25 May 2014)

Perhaps the snapdragon 600 is still expensive? It came out about a year ago and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One (2013) are equipped with it; I would hardly call those two mid rangers.

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:39 1

3. najib1312 (Posts: 154; Member since: 08 May 2013)

Current prices in Malaysia:

1) HTC Desire 816 - RM1,150 ~ USD357
2) Sony Xperia T2 Ultra - RM1,030 ~ USD320
3) Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo - RM1,120 ~ USD348

Overall, Galaxy Note 3 Neo wins!!

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:25 1

4. bornatalebi (Posts: 2; Member since: 05 May 2014)

Current prices in Iran:

1)HTC Desire 816: 1.570.000 Tomans
2)Sony Xperia T2 Ultra: 1.100.000 Tomans
3)Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo: 1.400.000 Tomans
4)Xperia Z Ultra: 1.400.000 Tomans

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:33 2

5. pyradark (Posts: 882; Member since: 10 Jun 2012)

I rather get T2 Ultra due to its great battery life and camera

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:48 3

7. UglyFrank (Posts: 1939; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Note 3 Neo has the best processor out of the bunch and S Pen can't be overlooked

posted on 29 May 2014, 13:48 2

15. Kamehameha (Posts: 44; Member since: 21 Apr 2014)

I'd choose better speakers over S Pen any day. Both are really good. But speakers are more important.

posted on 01 Jun 2014, 19:19

20. TheGenius (Posts: 339; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)

But ots also 170.000 tomans costly

posted on 02 Jun 2014, 04:45

21. Kamehameha (Posts: 44; Member since: 21 Apr 2014)

12% price difference is significant, but acceptable given the awesome speakers and their utility whenever you watch anything in your mobile.

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:45 2

6. waqarzec (Posts: 64; Member since: 09 May 2013)

hey phonearena why are u always opposite HTC........for one mini 2 u rated it at 8 score and for the top HTC one m8 u gave only 8.8 ...u know what have u done there.....u know except u the gsmarena,phonedog and pocketnow all have rated it with higher blessings.....it's the no1 ......why pa why......why with HTC......and same have u done in the case of HTC desire 816

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:55

8. maccess (Posts: 742; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)

8.5 seems too good IMO.. for me it's a 7.7..

posted on 29 May 2014, 05:53 1

9. craigy72 (banned) (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Good review -

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:03

10. Epicness1o1 (Posts: 280; Member since: 30 May 2013)

I think a M7 is a better deal

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:46

11. farhad_per (banned) (Posts: 128; Member since: 26 Mar 2014)

Good phone but I definitely prefer Note 3 neo and Grand 2..

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:48 2

12. tiara6918 (Posts: 2111; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)

Best mid range of its class

posted on 29 May 2014, 09:17

13. jai11 (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 May 2014)

does it have gorilla glass?

posted on 30 May 2014, 00:24

17. Mpkninja (Posts: 3; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)

No gorilla glass :S

posted on 29 May 2014, 18:14

16. Neo_Huang (Posts: 1067; Member since: 06 Dec 2013)

BTW the T2 Ultra does not have higher resolution.

posted on 30 May 2014, 03:32 1

18. brasstax (Posts: 406; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Whats up with "mid range" phones being outfitted with snapdragon 400 socs? With the s801 socs already becoming standard for flagships & s805 socs expected soon, any mid range phone/phablet needs to have the snapdragon 600 soc.

posted on 30 May 2014, 08:36

19. ahhxd717 (Posts: 332; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)

I was wondering why the S600 hasn't been used in more mid-range type phones. I think its still a great processor, especially with the better GPU compared to what's offered in the snapdragon 400 series

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 22:10

25. Canaan (Posts: 348; Member since: 25 May 2014)

Just realized I responded to the wrong person further up, but I'll repost what I told him:

Perhaps the snapdragon 600 is still expensive? It came out about a year ago and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One (2013) are equipped with it; I would hardly call those two mid rangers.

posted on 09 Sep 2014, 04:04

26. ARITRA (Posts: 45; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)

i heard s600 has been discontinued! but im not sure..

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 00:07

22. Tito73 (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)

Moto x best form factor ever!

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 00:22

23. Tito73 (Posts: 17; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)

But Htc one m8 best phone ever, no way to beat him because is faster, smoother, ...than anyone else, for me 1 problem is jack for headphones under, keys on screen are now ok because flagging hide keys ....you get 5 inch full in browsing, lack of beats audio software stock! Sense 6 just fantastic, I wish was as easy as Samsung to root, install recovery and change rom, I am a bit concerned to go on with modding....thanks Htc, camera is ok but OIS hardware and 8 ultrapixel dualcamera, for what I paid it, was just obligatory! Imo!
Last but not least waterproof! Gestures are perfect! Wifi and data signals are really strong 3 to 4 second to lock the signal and keeps it where my old z1, note 2, s2, iphone 5 didn't!
My note n8010 is crying, ...kitkat still isn't home,....

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HTC Desire 816

HTC Desire 816

OS: Android 5.0 4.4.2
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (267 ppi) S-LCD 2
Camera13 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Quad-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A7 processor
1.5 GB RAM
Size6.17 x 3.10 x 0.31 inches
(156.6 x 78.7 x 7.99 mm)
5.82 oz  (165 g)

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